Accountability and Transparency
FMO and the development finance industry in general face heightened scrutiny from stakeholders such as politicians and NGOs, both in the Netherlands and abroad. FMO’s growing public presence in the last few years has brought an increasing demand for information on our projects, clients and our impact. At the same time, FMO’s status as a bank with the Dutch Government as majority shareholder makes transparency and accountability even more important.
One important platform for accountability is our interaction with NGOs, both local and international. A notable point of NGO contact in 2012 was triggered by a hydroelectric dam project in Panama, which FMO is co-financing with DEG and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration. The project has come under some scrutiny due to its potential effects on the surrounding land and community. A process of independent verification was initiated under the moderation of the United nations representative in Panama. Further steps are currently being taken to assess the full consequences of constructing the hydroelectric dam and to identify the needs of the affected local communities. Further detail on this process is at present unavailable. FMO openly engages with NGOs and other civil society organizations on these and other topics, and invites dialogue regarding our operations and activities.
In 2013 we will prioritize transparency and accountability. A first step is improving our communication on the deals we invest in. In 2012 FMO adopted a disclosure policy, which outlines the scope and nature of the information that FMO will make available to the public. The policy will apply to Government-funded projects contracted from 2012 onwards and to FMO-funded projects contracted from 2013 onwards.
We plan to further open up communication with third parties by setting up an independent complaints panel, as well as an ombudsman. We will strive to extend and deepen our stakeholder relations as we expand our operations in the years ahead.
We believe that transparency in our financing and investment activities is fundamental to fulfilling our development mandate. Far from making us vulnerable, we believe that opening our books up will only make our business activities stronger. We strive to play a leading role, not just in sustainable and inclusive finance but as an open and well-governed business ourselves.
FMO also participates in the Dutch Transparency Benchmark. This annual survey is performed under the aegis of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and charts transparency in sustainability reporting and measures trends in the quality and quantity of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting in the largest companies in the Netherlands.
FMO scored 142 points out of a possible 200 for our 2009 annual report. We were pleased to bring this score up to 152 for the 2010 annual report and 175 for 2011. An overview of the scores for these three years is available on the website of the Transparency Benchmark. For ease of reference, we have created an index based on last year's Transparency Benchmark matrix to provide a quick-reference guide to all available information.